Sunday, October 25, 2009

Neal Meal Appetizer: An Ellen Original

Yes, this appetizer recipe is an Ellen Neal original called Crispy Baked Parmesan Squash with Creole Sauce. By the end of the summer, we were tired of eating fried squash, so I decided to create a new dish using ingredients from my kitchen (because I hate going to the grocery store!) These actually turned out great! It almost tastes like you are eating fried squash, without all the grease, and the creole sauce really makes it seem like an appetizer in a restaurant. You can either pair it with other vegetables or make it as an appetizer. Your choice! :)

Crispy Baked Parmesan Squash with Creole Sauce

Ingredients: 1 Squash, 2 tsp. Olive Oil, 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

Preparation: Slice squash. Drizzle with olive oil. Mix bread crumbs and parmesan together. Coat individual slices with mixture. Spray cookie sheet with Pam. Place squash on pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with creole seasoning and salt. Bake at 350 until golden brown.

Creole Dipping Sauce

Ingredients: 2/3 cup Sour Cream, 1 1/2 dry Ranch Dressing Mix, 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice, 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning, 1/4 tsp Onion Powder, 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

Preparation: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover, and chill.

Neal Meal 4: Deep Dish Pizza...finally!

Hello! Leann here! I know, I's been a while. A lot of you have been asking where we have been. Truth is, we've just been busy! Mom was out of town for what seems like a week and a half and I didn't want to cook without her. I thought it wouldn't be fair for me to do one on my own, aka laziness. ;) The good news is that this blog was worth the wait! We decided to "come back" with a bang by re-creating a Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza.

The first time I had a deep dish pizza was actually in Chicago with my Aunt Tonya and Uncle Mark at Lou Malnati's and I was hooked! It was DELICIOUS. So when my mom and I went to Chicago last summer, I insisted that she had to experience the deep dish and she was hooked too! Since then, we have had it twice more- once in Chicago and once in Charlotte. Since we love it so much, we decided to re-create it. I must say, this recipe is just as good as the stuff you get in the restaurants and it's pretty simple to make! If you've never tried it before, then I think trying this recipe is a must. In fact, if there is one recipe on here that you need to try, it is this one. :)


Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

1 c. water
1/4 c. shortening
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cu. lukewarm water
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
3 or 3 1/2 c. flour
yellow cornmeal

Heat 1 cup water, shortening, sugar and salt until shortening melts. Cool to lukewarm. Soften yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Combine yeast and shortening mixtures in large bowl. Add cornmeal and flour to shortening mix and knead until smooth and workable. Oil pizza pans with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough into pans and pierce with a fork several times. Bake in 425 degree preheated oven for 7 minutes. Remove and add your favorite pizza toppings and bake for additional 20 to 25 minutes. ( Be generous with the olive oil, it makes the crust even better!)


Your choice, really. We used pepperoni, canadian bacon, green peppers, mozzarella, mushrooms, and onion. Remember, with deep dish you layer the mozzarella first, then the sauce, and finally the toppings.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Neal Meal 3: Summer Re-creations

Hello! Leann and Ellen here! Like what you see above? ;) The meal we cooked last night was a re-creation of some of our favorite foods that we have eaten at restaurants on the coast. As some of you know, we went a little overboard on the beach vacations this summer, visiting Panama City, Destin, AND Gulf Shores! We also went overboard on eating, but we wouldn't have this Neal Meal if we hadn't now would we? :)

ANYway, we decided this week was perfect for cooking Baked Stuffed Flounder with Crabmeat Dressing, Smoked Gouda Grits, and Crunchy Pecan Slaw, with an appetizer of Cornmeal and Green Onion Fritters with Remoulade Sauce. We know this seems like a lot for a Thursday night, but don't be intimidated. With two in the kitchen it was actually pretty simple, just a little time consuming.

As we were eating this meal, we actually felt like we were at our favorite restaurant in Grayton Beach, The Red Bar. The baked stuffed flounder was near perfection, but we decided that next time we would drizzle some cheese sauce over it- not because it was dry- but because it would make it that much better.

The gouda cheese grits were a m a z i n g! And they only take 5 minutes to make. Even more a m a z i n g! We had never eaten gouda cheese before this summer, much less heard of it, but it is a great cheese. hehe. Who knew?

The crunchy pecan slaw was a last minute thought because we realized we needed some color on our plate. After digging through some recipes, we found it and luckily had everything to make it. Even if you aren't a slaw fan, give this one a try. It's delicious and extremely easy to make.

As for the cornfritters with remoulade sauce, we have made this before, and being the southern women we are, we thought some type of bread was much needed. SO, we hope you try at least one of these great recipes. They are A M A Z I N G, if we must say so. :)
-L & E

Crunchy Pecan Slaw:

Cornmeal and Green Onion Fritters:

Smoked Gouda Grits:

For the Baked Suffed Flounder with Crabmeat we combined ingredients from two recipes to make it our own. Enjoy!

Baked Stuffed Flounder with Crabmeat:

2 Tbsp. butter
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 slices white sandwich bread, toasted and buttered then finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1 can crab meat, drained & flaked, or 8 oz. fresh crab meat, flaked
4 flounder fillets (about 1 1/2 lb.)

In skillet over medium heat melt butter. Cook onion, garlic, celery, red pepper & parsley until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, lemon juice , dry mustard, thyme, worcestershire sauce, mayo. and salt & pepper. Fold in crab meat. Spread 1/3 to 1/2 cup filling on one side of each fillet. Roll up.
Place in baking pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Brush with melted butter. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Place under broiler and brown slightly.

Note for busy cooks: Crabmeat stuffing can be prepared ahead of time and frozen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Neal Meal 2: Bake-off Winner!!

Hey, Ellen here! The wonderful little community that I live in holds an annual Frontier Days event in September. Each year I enter the bake-off and always bring home a ribbon so the pressure was on. This is the second year that my daughters have entered the bake-off with me and, may I say, it is one of the highlights of our year! Sounds crazy doesn't it?, but the fun we have in my kitchen would be the envy of all mothers and daughters if you could only be there. We all entered the cookie division and I took home the BLUE RIBBON with my Mississippi Mud cookie despite the fact that no one thought it would win. In fact, my brother told me to not even enter it! Proved him wrong! Haha! He doesn't like Mississippi Mud cake though, so if you don't like it either you might not like this cookie. I made the recipe my own by adding a drizzle of the original cake's recipe icing. Hope you enjoy this cookie-it is absolutely delicious. Click on the link below for the recpe! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Neal Meal 1: The beginning

Hello! Leann here! How exciting...this is my first blog ever! I am now officially a "blogger." I don't know if I would have ever started this blog with my mother had it not been for the fact that I am now one of the 80% of college graduates living at home in light of the economy ( Kind of depressing, but ya know, I"m actually having a good time working things out; I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life.

ANYway, one thing led to another. I graduated college, moved home, got a job at a bakery, went to the beach with my mom, saw the movie Julie and Julia, got inspired, and am now blogging about food. Haha! Truth of the matter is we had actually planned on making one new dish, or Neal Meal, a week for the year that I was home. It's fun being in the kitchen with mom and she enjoys me too. Seeing the movie where Julie blogs about Mastering the Art French Cooking in a year was just the icing on the cake. Why not start a blog about us cooking new food? Everyone else in the world has a blog, so why not us? We might not be professionals but we love food and we love to cook! I think many can relate.

So you've probably guessed that the pictures above are of our first Neal Meal. We wanted to re-create the salads we recently had on our beach trip at a restaurant called The Village Grill. I know you are thinking, "salads?" but OMG they were amazing. The first picture is of the salad I had- Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. Let me just say that I think Goat Cheese can do no wrong. I love everything about it. If you've never tried it, you are missing out my friend. I never knew, however, how good goat cheese could be paired with a dry cherry and walnuts! Holy moly! I don't think I'm praising this salad too much. It's that good. Here's the recipe:

*Spring Mix
*Dried Cherries
*Goat Cheese ( found in the specialty section of cheeses)

Now, I tried making the dressing like the one at the restaurant. Problem was that I didn't have the recipe. So I got one off of and it was terrible! I was very disappointed, but everything I make can't be great and I can accept that. Here's the recipe if ya want to try, but it's bad. Real bad. And I usually love blue cheese dressings...

*1 clove garlic, chopped
*1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
*2 tsp sugar
*2 Tbs red wine vinegar
*1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*1/4 pound blue cheese crumbles, in speciality cheese section of your market
*salt and pepper
** Mix oregano, sugar, red wine vinegar together. Then slowly mix in olive oil and blue cheese.

Now I realize that I really didn't "cook" this salad. What I love about it, though, is that if you're anything like me it's different from the salad you usually eat at home, and that makes you feel like you've done something big! :)

Hello! Ellen here! I must say our first meal was somewhat of a disappointment because I was so excited to re-create my Asparagus Salad with Balsamic Fig Venegarette dressing and it didn't turn out that great. Let me say this: the salad with the roasted asparagus was just as good- if not better- as what I had at the restaurant. The dressing, however, was HORRIBLE! How horribe could it be, you ask? Well, just turn up the basalmic vinegar bottle and drink it and that is exactly how horrible it is! Oh well. We will be baking this weekend and I know we will have some better recipes to share with you... :)

As for having my daughter home for a year, as I tell all of my friends, I have enjoyed every stage of my children's growth. I consider this just another chapter in our lives and am trying my best to make the most of it. So far, so good! We love cooking together and we hope that you will enjoy this year of cooking Neal Meals right along with us. So try my salad! It's not that difficult to put together and it's delicious!

Roasted Asparagus Salad:
*Spring Mix Salad
*Boiled eggs, chopped
*Mushrooms, thinly sliced
*Roasted Asparagus
*Red onion, optional

Roasted Asparagus:
*1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
*1/8 teaspoon gr. black pepper
*1 T. olive oil
*3 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
**Preheat oven to 450F. Place asparagus in a 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss lightly to coat. Roast, uncovered, for about 15 min. or until crisp-tender, lightly tossing twice during roasting. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Balsamic Fig Vinegarette Dressing (Try at your own risk!)
*1 1b. fig (fresh)
*1 cup water
*2 ounces shallots (very thinly sliced)
*3 Tbls. olive oil
*1 tsp. sugar
*1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar

**Simmer figs in water until very soft. Puree with had held wand. Keep on low heat. Sweat shallots over med. heat in olive oil, and cook until tender ( about 15 min.) Add sugar and cook another 5 minutes. Add to fig mix and puree again. Add vinegar. Bottle and refrigerate.

French Bread:

*Warm bread in oven till soft.

Olive Oil Dip:

*Olive Oil
*Classico Traditional Basil Pesto
*Delallo Jumbo Calamata Whole Olives
*Shredded Parmesan Cheese

**Mix Olive oil and Pesto together ( This can be mixed to your taste) Mash olives and add to oil
mixture, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.